Supreme Court exacts more payback from Court of Appeals | Arkansas Blog

Thursday, June 8, 2017

Supreme Court exacts more payback from Court of Appeals

Posted By on Thu, Jun 8, 2017 at 1:49 PM

CATHOUSE: Relations between the two state appellate courts housed here have become increasingly catty in disputes over workload.
  • CATHOUSE: Relations between the two state appellate courts housed here have become increasingly catty in disputes over workload.
The Arkansas Supreme Court stuck a knife in the Arkansas Court of Appeals today in what looks like nothing so much as payback for Court of Appeals snark about an earlier decision dumping review of prisoner post-conviction appeals on the Court of Appeals.

Today, the Supreme Court ordered the Court of Appeals to give a full analysis of an appeal by Brookshire Grocery of an award of workers compensation to a security guard injured while trying to stop a shoplifter.

The Court of Appeals had issued only a "memorandum opinion." It said the Workers Compensation Commission had adequately explained its decision and, in keeping with long-standing policy in such cases, affirmed it without further analysis.

The Supreme Court was having none of that. In an unsigned per curiam opinion, the Supreme Court said:

We decline to consider appellant’s petition without the issue first being analyzed by a court of law. The court of appeals’ opinion provides no meaningful analysis. We therefore vacate the court of appeals’ opinion and remand this case to the court of appeals to properly analyze this case.

When the court of appeals handed down its per curiam [aboutr memorandum opinions in 1985], the court of appeals was just six years old and consisted of only six judges. The court faced a large backlog of cases, and as a means of managing a crushing workload, it promulgated its memorandum-opinion policy.

Since that time, however, the legislature doubled the number of judges on the court of appeals. Moreover, while the court of appeals averaged 869 cases per year disposed of by written opinion during the years 2001-2009, in 2016 it handed down only 570 written opinions. Accordingly, the rationale for handing down memorandum opinions no longer exists. We therefore overrule [the 1985 opinion]. Henceforth, all briefed cases submitted to the court of appeals must be disposed of by full, written majority opinions.
The Court of Appeals memorandum opinion complied with Supreme Court rules, by the way. But in the opinion today, the Supreme Court also changed that rule to prohibit memorandum opinions.

Background: The Court of Appeals griped about the dumping of post-conviction relief petitions by means of a footnote in an opinion and also noted that the Supreme Court had a staff of lawyers to handle the cases. That, in turn, prompted a news release from the Supreme Court remonstrating the Court of Appeals. Court of Appeals Chief Judge Rita Gruber also was called for a wood-shedding in an ambush meeting with the full Supreme Court.

Further background: The Supreme Court hates that it only makes about $5,000 a year more per justice than the Court of Appeals and has asked for an 11 percent pay raise (despite already ranking 29th in the country) while recommending only 2 percent for the Court of Appeals.


Meow.

PS: An anonymous legal researcher has sent me data that shows the Supreme Court justices — Rhonda Wood, Courtney Goodson, Robin Wynne, Jo Hart and Karen Baker — who served on the Court of Appeals post-expansion had all written or sat on panels that issued memorandum opinions. Lots of them.

Tags: , , , , , , ,

From the ArkTimes store

Favorite

Comments (9)

Showing 1-9 of 9

Add a comment

 
Subscribe to this thread:
Showing 1-9 of 9

Add a comment

More by Max Brantley

Readers also liked…

  • Federal judge wants John Goodson to explain class action maneuvering

    A show-cause order filed Monday by federal Judge P.K. Holmes of Fort Smith indicates class action attorney John Goodson has some explaining to do about the move of a class action complaint against an insurance company from federal to state court with an instant pre-packaged settlement that has been criticized as a windfall for Goodson.
    • Dec 22, 2015
  • El Dorado challenges state Board transfer decision; raises broad question about 'choice' vs. segregation

    The El Dorado School District HAS gone to federal court in response to the state Board of Education's approval, over El Dorado's objection, of the transfer of a white student from El Dorado to the majority white Parkers Chapel School District.
    • Aug 18, 2016
  • Auditor Lea caught not telling the truth

    State Auditor Andrea Lea, who began her tenure in statewide office with a degree of competence unseen in some other Republican counterparts (think Treasurer Dennis Milligan particularly), is becoming more deeply mired in a political scandal.
    • Mar 4, 2016

Most Shared

  • 'Cemetery angel' Ruth Coker Burks featured in new short film

    Ruth Coker Burks, the AIDS caregiver and activist memorably profiled by David Koon as the cemetery angel in Arkansas Times in 2015, is now the subject of a short film made by actress Rose McGowan.
  • Buyer remorse

    Out here in flyover country, you can't hardly go by the feed store without running into a reporter doing one of those Wisdom of the Heartland stories.
  • Not Whitewater

    Just think: If Democrats had turned out 78,000 more votes in three states in November, people could be reveling today in the prospect of impeaching and convicting President Hillary Clinton, not Donald Trump, as some Republican lawmakers had promised to try to do if she won.
  • Head-shaking

    Another edition of so-much-bad-news-so-little space.

Most Viewed

Most Recent Comments

Blogroll

 

© 2017 Arkansas Times | 201 East Markham, Suite 200, Little Rock, AR 72201
Powered by Foundation